Leaning towers in Spain: our own Towers of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has bewildered us with its unbelievable equilibrium for many years now, and the truth is, its fame is really well-deserved. Perhaps it stands out among all these towers that seem to wish to lie down and rest on the floor, or maybe it’s just had better advertising than others. Because there are others, that’s beyond doubt. In fact, we don’t even need to go to Italy: there are at least 5 similar towers in Spain.

The church of San Juan de los Panetes, Zaragoza

A church and a leaning tower with blue sky

The church of San Juan de los Panetes. | Shutterstock

Close to the popular square of El Pilar in the capital city of Zaragoza, we’ll find the church of San Juan de los Panetes. It’s not a particularly remarkable temple, but this church has had a though life: it has endured multiple devastating fires throughout history that have destroyed its interior. However, its leaning tower is incredibly peculiar. We can admire the beautiful Mudéjar architecture with the Renaissance accents of this building dating back to the 16th century. It was almost demolished in the early 20th century, but the people in Zaragoza fought for it and they succeeded at keeping the tower, pleading that, despite its “defect”, it had become a symbol for the city.

Torre del Reloj, Ateca

A leaning tower next to a church, with small old houses around it

Torre del Reloj, Ateca. | Diego Delso, Wikimedia

Torre del Reloj (the Clock Tower in English) stands next to the church of Santa María de Ateca, rising among the buildings that surround it. We know there used to be a tower from the Middle Ages in that same spot, but it had to be remodelled several times, and eventually they decided to demolish it. Nevertheless, in the 16th century a new tower was built using the foundations of its predecessor. Both Christian and Muslim people took part in the construction of the new tower, and that’s why Torre del Reloj displays mixed features of the two architectural styles. A mistake on its construction provoked the characteristic tilting of the tower, probably due to the speed at which they carried out the task. Anyways, said tilting was never corrected —and there is no need to do so either!

The tower of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Bujalance

An old picture with a church and its tower, some plants in the front of the photo

The tower of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. | Wikimedia

The tower of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, in the town of Bujalance, Córdoba, is better known as Catedral de la Campiña. Its construction began in the early 17th century, more precisely in 1611, but the work didn’t finish until 1788. This tower is 55 metres high; it’s made of brick, and one of the highest buildings in the region. Indeed, it can be easily seen from the distance. The tilt reaches one and a half metres, which is quite impressive too. 

The tower of the church of Santa Eugenia, Nerellá

A tower among stone buildings and blue sky

The tower of the church of Santa Eugenia, Nerellá. | MarisaLR, Wikimedia

The church this following tower belongs to is considerably old. Its existence was first recorded in 839, in a consecration act of the cathedral D’Urgell. Back then, it used to be one of the most important parish churches in this area of Lleida. Its bell tower was added centuries later, in the 11th century. It hasn’t been altered since, so its inclination, which amounts to more than one and a half metres, must have been there from the beginning. In fact, it’s called Cerdanya’s Tower of Pisa, even though it’s actually older than its Italian sister, which was built in the 12th century.

Torre Nueva, Zaragoza

An old picture of a great leaning tower

Torre Nueva, Zaragoza. | Photographed in 1876 by J. Laurent, Wikimedia

The last instance of the leaning towers in Spain is a most curious building which, sadly, we cannot visit today. However, it used to be the tallest building in Zaragoza, since it reached the height of 80 metres. The tower was built at the beginning of the 16th century with the aim of it working both as a clock and a bell tower. In a time span of 15 months the building was already standing proudly in the square of San Felipe. Once again, the problem here was simple: doing things in a hurry can turn out badly, which resulted in a tower dangerously leaning towards other buildings.

Over time, the clock ceased to work and the weather conditions damaged the tower’s architecture. Therefore, in the mid-19th century, the intention to demolish it became something more than a rumour. The idea was put into effect at the end of the century, regardless of its cultural significance to the city. Nowadays, it’s still fondly remembered by the inhabitants of Zaragoza; in the end, a tower like that just cannot be forgotten.

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